Several years ago, I tried writing a book. It was hard. There were a few false starts.
I finally did it (result: The Sales Funnel Bible) but only by creating a challenge for myself to write daily for a period of time. Since then, I’ve written a lot of books but just had to get that first one out.
Along the way, I’ve met a lot of people who say, “I’m going to write a book!” but never do. I just nod and be encouraging but know that the likelihood is slim. I think it’s also the reason that people hire me to ghostwrite for them.
I don’t say that to be disparaging to anyone but rather to set the stage for something I heard once that rung true: “People don’t want to write a book… they want to have written a book.” (Sorry, not sure where I heard that; I’m happy to link to a source if you know the answer.)
And it’s true not just about writing a book but about anything. People want the result, not the effort to get the result.
I think that’s why some people struggle with… well… just about anything from writing a book to losing weight to eliminating debt to learning or mastering any skill. Because we want to be the butterfly without going through the cocoon.
It’s true for YOU (and me; not pointing fingers here!) and it’s true for your customers. As human beings, we want the result without the pain/time/cost to get there.
It’s why there’s ghostwriting for people who want to have written a book without actually going through the effort of writing one.
It’s why there’s surgery for people who want to have lost weight without actually going through the effort of dieting.
It’s why there are performance-enhancing drugs for people who want to have put on muscle and improved athleticism without actually going through the effort of working out regularly.
Heck, it’s why there are cars for people who want to have reached a destination without actually going through the effort of walking.
It’s why we have the saying, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.” Because people want the result but aren’t willing to put the time in.
Fortunately, change is possible and I think the problem for most of us is: we just need to address the hardest part…
Waiting Is The Hardest Part
As the late, great Tom Petty has pointed out, waiting is the hardest part. We want change now.
And we want it to be simple (but it rarely is).
So how do we get it?
Well, if 20 years ago was the best time to plant a tree then you get into your DeLorean and you go back 20 years and plant that damn tree!
If you don’t have a time-traveling car, then there are really only 2 ways to create change: you can collapse time or you can reduce the pain of the time.
You can collapse time with Done-For-You solutions, with doubling up on effort or education, and with coaches.
Done-For-You Solutions: As the name suggests, this is where you get the result done on your behalf. An ethical business example might be hiring a marketing company to do your marketing for you instead of doing it yourself. This can take some money and not everyone agrees with the ethics of all Done-For-You solutions (DFY marketing is good… performancing-enhancing drugs may not be.)
Doubling Up On Effort Or Education: In this strategy, you are simply doing more than most people to get it done. Maybe you write that book by recording audios while driving and then getting those audios transcribed; or maybe you learn a new language by spending 12 hours a day immersed in learning. This is a great method but does require that you carve out time and potentially make sacrifices elsewhere; or at least get creative in finding time.
Hire A Coach: A coach helps to collapse time by sharing what works and what doesn’t so you don’t have to learn it yourself, while also providing accountability and a second set of eyes. Again, this takes money to do but it can be worth it. There’s a reason why Olympic athletes and professional athletes have coaches while amateurs do not.
Each or all of these will get you to your result faster. However, these are not always available in every situation, so let me share the next part of it…
Reduce The Pain Of Time
Since time can only be collapsed so much, there is of course the necessity to get the result the old fashioned way — by planting the tree and waiting 20 years. I think there are two ways to reduce the pain of time: with habits and challenges.
Habits: A habit is a system in your life; it’s a thing you do automatically and unconsciously. My workouts are at 5:00 PM every day. That’s a habit that I scheduled a long time ago when I found that to be the best time for me to work out, and it’s become so ingrained in my effort that I just automatically start getting ready just before 5:00 PM. It’s also how I lost 50 pounds, just by adjusting a habit. There are some great resources about habit-building, including Charles Duhigg’s The Power Of Habit and Darren Hardy’s The Compound Effect (which is one of the top 10 books that changed my life).
But habits themselves are hard to adopt. I get it. If it were easy, we’d all have that book on our bookshelf and be 20 pounds thinner, right? So that leads me to my next strategy, which is one I love:
Challenges: I think the number one way to reduce the pain of the waiting time is to create a small challenge and turn that challenge into a habit. It’s how I wrote my first book, taught myself to wake up at 5:00 AM every day, and learned to do 100 burpees in 10 minutes. The benefit of a challenge is this: it gamifies time and effort, and rewards the work of creating a habit.
Everyone wants change… no one wants to go through change. But going through change doesn’t have to be hard or boring. Going through change creates the result you want… and it can be fast and fun to do.
Action step: find a change you want to make in your life and run through this article as a checklist to create the framework that will most likely help you plant that tree, make it grow faster, and make the waiting time a bit more fun.